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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  August 1, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, august 1: the justice department's stunning investigation of discrimination against black children in the st. louis family court system; and candidates collecting massive amounts of facebook data on individual voters; and in our signature segment, home or hotel? a new battle in the sharing economy over airbnb. so, we're sitting in an illegal hotel room, according to the state senator. >> ( laughs ) yes, i have a difference of opinion with her, for sure. it's really hard for me to feel like my home is a hotel. >> sreenivasan: next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by:
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corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support is provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios in lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening, and thanks for joining us. we begin with a scathing federal report on the st. louis county juvenile justice system. the u.s. department of justice says the county discriminates against black children, treating them more harshly than white children "because of their race." according to the justice department's civil rights division, black children in st. louis county are 1.5 times more likely than white children to end up in family court in the first place. black children are 2.5 times more likely than whites to be
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detained before their trial, and, if convicted, they are more than 2.5 times as likely to be held in custody after trial. the report also found inadequate representation for children from low-income families no matter what race in st. louis county, where one juvenile public defender handled 394 cases last year. the investigation began in 2013 nine months before the shooting of michael brown in ferguson, missouri, which is in st. louis county. in march, the justice department issued a similarly critical report about disparate racial treatment by the ferguson police department. yamiche alcindor is reporting on this story for "u.s.a. today," and she joins me now from st. louis. so this was a fairly comprehensive dive that the d.o.j. took. i mean they looked at more than 30,000 cases over a three-year period to come up with these conclusions. >> they did. they really took their time looking at this court system because i think they really wanted to go in and talk to the
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people. if you look at the report they interviewed judges. they interviewed public defenders. they interviewed private attorneys. they even interviewed the parents of these kids who they say rights were being violated. they did a very deep dive and took their time and this is something that showed plaque children were really not being treated fairly, and children, regardless of their race their rights were really being violated. >> sreenivasan: right, those rights including ones not to incriminate yourself. it seemed the diversionary programs were contingent on the fact, admit guilt and you won't have to come into the system. >> exactly. and even though it happened nine months before michael brown was shot and all the unrest that happened in ferguson, this really calls into question kind of how justice is dealt out in the st. louis area, and really, in some ways makes peems really think about how our students and how our kids, i should say, are really being treated in this area. are their rights being protected by the people you would hope
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would protect them. you would think a judge a public defender, the people in these children's lives during the most difficult times in their lives would have their best interest in mind but the justice deparment is saying that just wasn't the case. >> sreenivasan: and they also found a lack of uniformity and any sort of standard even determining something as simple as are you poor enough that you should get this public defender or not? >> that's true. and one of the things i found also interesting was the fact they criticized the structure of the court saying there was a lot of conflict of interest that people that were suppose to be having these children's best interests in mind were having competing interests and paid by the same people who were now their adversaries. the idea that even the people who were supposed to be protecting these kids' rights had a conflict of interest and had to answer to the same people they were adversaries against. >> sreenivasan: 394 cases a year. at that kind of volume you can't mount a very spirited defense and it looks like the department of justice found lots of case where's there was almost
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no push-back at all. >> yes, and when i was reading that report one of the things that struck me you talked about the numbers for plaque children and i talked to some experts who were talking about the fact that really there was an inherent bias going on here too the idea that you had, obviously, overwhelmed public defenders but you also had black kids who were being detained not only more before the trial but also after they gave a-- some of a guilty plea in family court or if they also violated their probation that they were also more likely to be detained. you would inning this case the department of justice is really saying this family court really treated black children harsher and really treated them and really treated them in the way that violated their constitutional rights. so i think that was really important to me when i was reading it. >> sreenivasan: and something also interesting is the family court didn't seem to cooperate very much with the d.o.j. they only allowed them to watch a limited amount of time in the session, but one of the things that the report mentioned was that the judge would basically rattle off a lot of legal jargon, and the kids would just be saying, "yes sir ysir, yes,
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sir" without understanding what they were giving up. >> when i read that, i thought if you think about someone who is in family court, you think about a child who is really in need, who is really probably in a cries moment their life, someone who is maybe 13 or 14 years old, listening to all this legal jargon even as a reporter sometimes it's hard to follow what's going on in the courtroom so imagine being 14 or 15 listening to a judge in a very intimidating setting really talking about your future and you just saying, "yes sir, yes, sir," to get through the moment. it's really heartbreaking when you think of that because you can imagine that scene in your head and think these are really children who needed the help of this court and didn't get it. >> sreenivasan: this isn't the only place the department of justice has looked at, right? >> this isn't the only place. from my understanding, shelby county, which includes memphis, they actually had an investigation against them that was closed and that was one of the things. they're also looking at dallas county texas and for very similar violations in looking into how they treat their
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youths. this is not just focused on the st. louis area. they're also electrocute other counties. >> sreenivasan: all right, yamiche alcindor of "usa today," thanks so much. >> sreenivasan: "super pacs," those political action committees with no limits on contributions, have raised $245 million for presidential candidates in the first six months of this year, and at least 58 individuals have donated $1 million or more to super-pacs. super-pacs supporting republican jeb bush raised the most, $108 million. groups backing texas senator ted cruz raised $38 million; and florida senator marco rubio, $33 million. super-pacs for wisconsin governor scott walker raised $26 million while groups supporting republicans chris christie, rick perry and john kasich all raised more than $10 million. on the democratic side, a super- pac supporting hillary clinton raised $16 million. in california, more than 8,000 firefighters are battling two dozen wildfires, covering tens of thousands of acres up and down the state. the biggest blaze is burning near lower lake, in northern california.
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it has scorched more than 22,000 acres and is only 5% contained. one firefighter from south dakota died fighting flames in the modoc national forest, in the northeast corner of the state. drought, lightning strikes and strong winds are blamed for the fires. california governor jerry brown declared a state of emergency yesterday. take an in-depth look at how donors who give $1 million or more are already influencing the 2016 presidential election. visit us online at >> sreenivasan: in tonight's signature segment, our second report on the so-called "sharing economy" how technology is changing the way we do business for ourselves. last weekend, we took a look at how services like uber and instacart are challenging the definition of an employee and an independent contractor. tonight, we look at how private homes and apartments are becoming a shared resource. short-term rental companies like airbnb and people that use them
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are challenging the traditional definition of a hotel. and in cities around the country, public officials are questioning whether renting out your home should even be legal. so, it's a two-bedroom? >> yeah, two bedrooms. >> sreenivasan: three years ago, jennifer and her husband began listing their two-bedroom brooklyn apartment on what was then an up and coming web site, airbnb. >> my husband travels a lot for work. we also have family all over the country. and so, when we knew we were going away, i would just make the apartment available. we have a space that sleeps six, so people almost always rented it. it just kept going well, and we kept having all these good experiences. >> sreenivasan: airbnb connects hosts who want to share their homes with guests who are looking for a place to stay short term, typically for a weekend or a vacation. airbnb lists the property, connects the two parties and collects a booking fee. jennifer-- she did not want us to use her last name-- charges up to $200 a night to rent her place when she and her family
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go away up to a week every month. >> i think it's great for the local communities. i can kind of direct people to my favorite restaurants in the neighborhood. i'm able to help people come in here and really experience what the city has to offer, you know. >> sreenivasan: what sounds like a win-win situation for jennifer and her guests is not so simple. what jennifer is doing may be illegal in new york city, where city and state laws restrict short-term rentals. the short-term home rental industry is booming. platforms like homeaway flipkey, vrbo are popular, and airbnb has emerged as the giant in this, especially in cities. airbnb now lists over one million rooms available in 192 countries. and new york city, with more than 25,000 listings a night, is the platform's largest u.s. market. new york is also where the debate over how to regulate short-term home rentals like airbnb is perhaps most contentious. according to a report by new york attorney general eric schneiderman last year, nearly
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three quarters of airbnb's listings between 2010 and 2014 were essentially "illegal hotels," short-term rentals that violate state and city laws against renting out an apartment for less than 30 days unless the occupants are also present. schneiderman found 94% of airbnb hosts in new york are like jennifer and her husband. they have only one or possibly two listings. >> those are rooms that would have gone to the hotel industry and should have gone to the hotel industry given what we've invested in the city and our buildings. >> sreenivasan: vijay dandapani chairs the new york city hotel association and is president of apple core hotels, which owns five in midtown manhattan including this la quinta. he says competition from airbnb has driven down his hotels' room rates. >> rates have not gone back up to pre-financial crisis despite the fact that tourism has gone up. that's because, you've suddenly got 140 rooms, 40 of those rooms
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being not hotels. >> sreenivasan: dandapani complains airbnb and its hosts not only steal business, they also do not follow the same rules and regulations as hotels. >> we have a fire command system, security systems that give you protections from intruders, and so on. the moment you get into converting your house into a hotel, which is de facto what is being done nowadays, none of those protections are there. >> sreenivasan: then, there's the issue of taxes. airbnb collects a hotel occupancy tax on behalf of hosts in many cities but not new york. chip conley, airbnb's head of global hospitality, says the company is looking at how to do that. >> the annual taxes that we would be paying would be $65 million if the state and city of new york would allow us to be a collector of taxes and a remitter of taxes. currently, they are not allowing us to do that. >> sreenivasan: city officials counter that allowing collection of taxes legitimizes activity that is largely unlawful. >> so, what's odd to us is that
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new york is actually sort of a laggard here relative to so many other communities across the u.s. who have said let's create sensible legislation and let's make sure we're actually collecting taxes as well. >> sreenivasan: new york airbnb hosts jordan and joshua, who also prefer us not to use their last names, say they'd be willing to pay a hotel tax for renting out their two-bedroom apartment. they already declare the income, about a $180 a night. >> if airbnb collected the tax right when it was booked, then we wouldn't have to worry about it. >> sreenivasan: the hotel industry is not the only group fighting airbnb. so are residents of apartment buildings where neighbors' apartments are rented out to total strangers. new york state senator liz krueger represents the east side of manhattan. >> constituents started coming to me and saying, "there's something strange going on in my building. the apartments seem to be being rented out on a nightly basis. there are groups of tourists wandering in and out with
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luggage, with keys to the buildings." >> sreenivasan: krueger, who has often been dubbed airbnb's doubter in chief, was the primary sponsor of the 2010 state law that effectively banned short-term apartment rentals in new york city. >> they encourage illegal activity. they don't have to, but they choose to do so as a business model. >> sreenivasan: and the short- term rental activity that troubles officials like krueger and attorney general schneiderman most is what they call "commercial users" of airbnb and similar web sites. >> people becoming entrepreneurs and renting one to 100 apartments, claiming that they're their own homes, and turning them into ongoing illegal hotel arrangements. >> sreenivasan: in fact, the attorney general's report found while only 6% of airbnb hosts advertise three or more listings, they account for more than a third of airbnb's business in new york. the report also found thousands of airbnb listings were rented for three months or more of the
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year. new york assemblywoman linda rosenthal went on what she terms an undercover sting operation this spring to find these commercial users. >> do you live here? you don't live here? oh, okay. >> sreenivasan: in one of the videos that she released to the press, rosenthal is seen visiting a host who she says was renting seven apartments in a building, none of which he lived in. >> but, in case anybody asks something, you don't know what airbnb is. >> oh, okay. >> that's why airbnb always calls you guests. >> sreenivasan: airbnb has taken steps to remove users who have a large number of listings. >> we, like the attorney general, support the idea of cracking down on illegal hotels and unscrupulous landlords. in the spring, we took down 2,000 listings, what we were calling "bad actors" who we just felt shouldn't be using the site. >> sreenivasan: but state senator krueger argues airbnb is enticing landlords like the one in the undercover video to convert apartments into short- term rentals, which can be more profitable than renting them to
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long-term residents. and that, krueger says, makes it harder for new yorkers to find affordable housing in a city where the housing market is already tight. >> airbnb has told me, "if you could just do one or two, it would be okay." and the answer is no, because if 10,000 people decide to rent out two apartments full-time, that's 20,000 units off the market. >> sreenivasan: so, we're sitting in an illegal hotel room, according to the state senator. >> ( laughs ) yes. i have a difference of opinion with her, for sure. it's really hard for me to feel like my home is a hotel. i feel like someone who is welcoming a lot of people who become friends. i mean, i think the key is just making sure that it's people are... it's something that people are doing with their primary home. financially, it really helps my family. rents here have skyrocketed in the ten years that we've been here. >> sreenivasan: airbnb argues it helps residents stay in their homes by allowing them to earn supplemental income to pay their rent or mortgage. >> it affords me as an artist to be an artist. i use part of this income to survive on.
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>> sreenivasan: joshua also says that the airbnb system allows them to be very choosy about who they let stay in their home and when. >> it's up to us as hosts what we want to do. i say we deny eight out of ten people that ask us to stay here and we get a lot of requests. a lot. so, that's how i regulate it. the question that people ask is, do we feel safe having people we don't know in our home? and the answer is yes. >> sreenivasan: arun sundararajan is a business professor at new york university. he says cities like new york should partner with companies like airbnb and residents to forge new ways of regulating the activity on those platforms. why is the airbnb model so different than the model for lodging that we've had all the rules and regulations around so far? >> the fundamental innovation is in tapping into underutilized capacity-- repurposing what used
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to be residential real estate and sort of converting it into a new form of mixed-use real estate where for some of the time it is short-term accommodation and for the rest of the time it's residential. >> sreenivasan: cities across the country are grappling with these questions. like new york, santa monica banned short-term rentals of entire homes when the host is not present and additionally imposes a 14% tax when a host rents out a room in his house. other cities have recently forged a middle ground. san francisco residents are permitted to rent out homes a maximum of 90 days a year. in philadelphia, the maximum is 180 days, and hosts must pay an 8.5% hotel tax to the city. >> i think that there's a growing recognition among cities that this kind of sharing economy activity can be good for a city. >> sreenivasan: but for now, new york city is cracking down. it has expanded the office tasked with investigating complaints of illegal hotels and is proposing higher fines for violators.
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>> sreenivasan: facebook is offering new tools for political candidates, and your personal account could be used in the process. for the first time, facebook is allowing campaigns to track users' political comments and" likes" to create a master list of target voters and potential donors. facebook has 189 million monthly users in the united states. to discuss the implications of is "new york times" reporter ashley parker. so what can they do besides that one feature now that they couldn't do four yiers ago. >> there's a ton they can do. one of the biggest things is now facebook allows campaigns to upload their voter file, which is the the best of basically voters they hope to target and turn out to vote, to facebook so, they can reach them there. >> sreenivasan: so let's walk through that. i hand in an e-mail address if i go to a political event to a particular speech right.
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and then what is it the campaign do with that? >> not only that you hand in an e-mail address or the campaign will have a little bit of code on their web site where they track you, and they can see when you came to their web site you clicked the donation page and maybe gave a donation or maybe you sort of learned a bit more about the candidate and visited the candidate's energy page so they know you're interested in energy. so they have your e-mail address. they have this other information about you and then they can literally sort of follow you over to facebook and they can know that you, specific user who has this e-mail address and who cares about energy is also on facebook and they can also then overlay facebook data. so maybe fakeknows in addition to those things you watch fox news a lot and you went to a certain college and you live in a certain state like iowa or new hampshire and then they can target you with a very specific ad knowing that you're likely an iowa caucus-goer who is interested in energy and watches fox news and is friend with
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these people and you get this ad in your stream and it's directly to you and your interests. >> sreenivasan: this is a big shift. it used to be advertising was about reaching most amount of people possible. now we don't really care to reach the most. we just want to reach the ones who could turn into voters for us. >> exactly. as facebook says it's about reaching the right people in the right place with the right message. >> sreenivasan: and if you're in a household, really, there are multiple facebook accounts that could be using the same computer, so i'm imagining they could target with different kinds of ads or different people could be targeting you. >> yeah absolutely. and another innovation in addition to the targeting is facebook has really improved their video feature. they sort of launched a new video feature last year and they had about a billion views of video per day, and now less than a year later, they have 4 billion views. and one of the things that that does is their video now sort of starts auto playing. so when you're scrolling through your feed, whether you click on
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a video or not, a facebook video will literally just start to play. and so facebook is saying this is a big advantage for the campaigns because people will see these videos and they might not have clicked on them but maybe the video captures their attention and they stop and watch. >> sreenivasan: short of not using facebook what is end users' privacy options if i don't want to be inundated with political ads on my phone? >> it's tough. facebook has various privacy settings which users can control but at a certain point i think some users may not even realize how much campaigns and facebook together know about them. if i'm a visitor and visiting scott walker's web site, i don't necessarily know that scott walker's campaign has embedded a little bit of code that will let them track me when i go to facebook. i might not know to go into my privacy settings to change something because i have no idea i'm being tracked at the level i'm being tracked. >> sreenivasan: all right, ashley parker from the "new york times," thanks so much.
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>> thank you. >> this is pbs newshour weekend, saturday. >> sreenivasan: and now to "viewers like you," you're chance to comment on our work. here's some of what you had to say about last week's story on companies like uber and instacart, and how the definition of "employee" is changing in the sharing economy. there was this from uber driver steven simpson-black: "i've worked independent contractor-type jobs my entire life-- newspaper delivery, janitorial work, etc i pay full taxes. i can say i make more money per hour working for myself than i would making minimum wage elsewhere. stay out of my business, and i'll stay out of yours." and from elias rachid: "leave these companies alone. if people don't want to work for them, they don't have to." colorado native noted: "my gut tells me that because uber and other companies like them are disruptive, the traditional companies in their industry don't like them; tradition that didn't become tradition until the automobile-- a disruptive force-- forced out
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the horse-drawn carriage from the livery business. so goes progress." many of your comments were like this from john michael hutton: "uber drivers should have to comply with the same rules and regulations that cab drivers must. if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck." and this, from wes montgomery: "uber handles the payment and specifies what payment methods are available. uber is a car service. drivers are an integral part of their business model. these facts point strongly to an employment relationship regardless of who owns the car or whether they set their own hours and choose which fares to accept." kathleen anderson added: "i do not understand why they are not subject to the same rules and regs as taxi drivers. they are selling the same service. can someone explain that?" and finally there was this from trustknow1: "i might be old fashioned, but i'll do my own shopping and stick with a traditional taxi service." as always, we welcome your comments at, on our facebook page or tweet us at newshour.
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>> sreenivasan: finally tonight activists with the n.a.a.c.p., has begun an 860-mile journey for justice. the 46-day march began today in selma alabama, goes through five southern states and ends mid-september in washington d.c. the march coincides with next week's 50th anniversary of the signing of the voting right act. the world health organization is asking the international olympic committee to test the water offs rio de janeiro before next august. boating and open water swimming venues contain dangerously high levels of bacteria and viruses accordingings to an analysis conducted by the associated press. the cause? raw sewage. i'm hari sreenivasan. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh
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>> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support is provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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narrator: hedy lamarr was box-office dynamite, a smoldering femme fatale known as the most beautiful woman in film, and cinema's very first nude. but when her looks began to fade, hollywood rejected her and in her mid-30's, her life fell apart. her endless search for love and stability led to six disastrous marriages, and her struggle to combine her career with motherhood ended with her rejecting her children. i think hedy saw herself towards the end of her days, as a beauty whose beauty had been lost, and she became very reclusive. cosmetic surgery to return her good looks had disastrous results and alone and on the breadline a bewildered hedy found herself on trial for shoplifting.


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